Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, stands as Vietnam’s vibrant epicenter. This is a must-visit in any Vietnam itinerary, this bustling metropolis captivates with its rich tapestry of attractions. From museums and historical landmarks to bustling neighborhoods, superb dining spots, and an endless array of coffee houses and cocktail bars, the city offers something wonderful for travelers.

What truly sets Ho Chi Minh City apart is its juxtaposition of modernity and tradition. Amidst its thriving urban landscape, ancient edifices steeped in history stand as poignant reminders of its storied past. In this guide, I will introduce you to the city’s highlights, recommending three days to explore, especially when adding day trips and guided tours to the itinerary.

All the things you need to know when you have 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City

Day 1: Experience the city’s diverse offerings with a specific timeline and location

Morning: Explore historical and cultural sites

Visit the War Remnants Museum first in the morning to learn about Vietnam’s turbulent history, with a special emphasis on the Vietnam War. A powerful collection of relics, images, and records that offer a view of the war’s effects may be found at this museum. This is located in District 3, and the opening hours are from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM every day. You can get here by taxi or motorbike, besides, you can search for this location via the Internet, and you can see the map on this.

War Remnants Museum

After that, the next destination is the adjacent Reunion Palace, commonly referred to as Independence Palace and a famous representation of the nation’s reunion. This architectural marvel provides political and historical context for modern-day Vietnam. It is located in District 1, and opening hours are from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM every day. Independence Pace is one of the attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, attracting many locals and tourists.

Independence Palace

Afternoon: Dive into local cuisine and markets

For lunch, you can go to Ben Thanh Market, one of Ho Chi Minh City’s busiest and oldest markets, which is located in District 1. In this market, you will enjoy a range of regional cuisine at the food booths or peruse the wide selection of goods available at the market, including apparel, handicrafts, and souvenirs. The sellers here are very hospitable and they are always happy and welcome you with their products. However, when you come here, you should bring cash to use. In addition, when buying goods, you must negotiate the price with them to avoid buying goods at high prices. In terms of Vietnamese cuisine, I recommend you enjoy Noodle Soup, such as Pho, Bun Rieu, or Banh Canh. These dishes are Vietnamese specialties that tourists cannot miss. From the Independence Palace to Ben Thanh Market, it takes only 10–15 minutes by taxi or motorbike.

Ben Thanh Market

After your lunch, you may stroll down Nguyen Hue Walking Street. It just takes about 5 minutes from Ben Thanh Market. This pedestrian avenue is the ideal place for an afternoon stroll and people-watching because it is packed with stores, cafés, and lovely fountains. Here you can take photos of high-rise buildings right here along with cafes and restaurants right on or along the street. Besides, you can enjoy snacks from street vendors on this walking street, with prices only about 20.000 – 30.000 VND (0.8 – 1.2 US Dollar). Besides, there is a monument to President Ho Chi Minh located here, bringing majestic historical significance to this city, and enhancing the beauty of Nguyen Hue Street.

Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Evening: Embrace the vibrant nightlife

Experience the lively nightlife of the city as dusk draws closer. Begin with your meal at one of the numerous excellent establishments in the Pham Ngu Lao neighborhood, located in District 1, which is renowned for its many eating options that satisfy all tastes. It is such as Asiana Food Town, Ms Kitchen – Indian Delicious Food, Xóm Đêm Quán, and Saigon Kitchen.

Explore the vibrant atmosphere of Saigon, Bui Vien Walking Street, after dinner. There are vibrant pubs, live street acts, and a diverse crowd of visitors and residents having a good time here at night. Bui Vien Street has a lot of alternatives to end your first day in Ho Chi Minh City, whether you’d rather be in a busy club or a quiet rooftop pub.

Bui Vien Walking Street

Day 2:

Morning: Cu Chi Tunnels

You may start in the early morning to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, a historic location that was vital to the Vietnam War. Viet Cong forces used these tunnels as living quarters, hospitals, supply lines, and hiding places. It provides an amazing look into the Vietnamese people’s inventiveness and tenacity during the war.

  • Location: Ho Chi Minh City is around 44 kilometers northwest of the Cu Chi Tunnels.
  • Visit: You can arrange for a grab taxi or reserve a trip that includes transportation from your hotel. Tours often leave early in the morning to beat the noon heat.
  • Duration Needed: Schedule a half-day excursion and aim to return by early afternoon.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Afternoon: Explore Cho Lon (Chinatown)

After lunch and a return trip from the Cu Chi Tunnels, proceed to Cholon, the ancient Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City. You may visit the busy marketplaces and temples here, taking in the diverse cultural offerings of this energetic neighborhood. Cholon is mostly in District 5, which is reachable by taxi or other local transportation. Besides, you can take a tour of the tiny alleyways lined with cafes and stores, as well as visit Thien Hau Temple and Binh Tay Market for locally made items and souvenirs. Tourists can come to the Thien Hau Pagoda to offer prayers for good health and wealth. You may enjoy several priceless artifacts, snap pictures, and take part in the pagoda’s celebration here.  The Thien Hau Pagoda’s construction creates a serene, sentimental ambiance. It’s the perfect location for vintage photo shoots.

Binh Tay Market

Thien Hau Temple

Evening: River Cruise on Saigon River

Wrap up your day with a relaxing river cruise on the Saigon River, offering stunning views of the city skyline as it lights up at dusk. You can refer to ticket prices on Google to book in advance at preferential prices. River cruises depart from District 1 along the Saigon River. You will enjoy a dinner cruise with Vietnamese cuisine, live music, and a chance to see iconic landmarks such as the Bitexco Financial Tower and Saigon Opera House from the water. Cruises typically last a few hours, providing a perfect end to your day. In addition, there are also eating places right in the city center, such as Ho Tung Mau and Ngo Duc Ke Streets, right in the city center of District 1.

Enjoy a dinner cruise on the Saigon River

Day 3:

Morning: Ancient Post Office and Pagoda

You can start the day with a popular tourist destination in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the Saigon Central Post Office is known for its exquisite tile patterns and gorgeous architecture. Constructed in the late 1800s during French colonialism, it has an air of grandeur and sophistication. The post office is a charming destination for tourists and a cultural icon that represents resiliency and patriotism. It is located in District 1 and opens at 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM every day.

Saigon Central Post Office

Next, you may go on a visit to the Jade Emperor Pagoda, located in District 1, which is a magnificent example of Chinese religious architecture that captivates with its colorful beauty and fine craftsmanship. This pagoda has elaborate walls and murals that captivate the eye. You can visit here to pray for your health, prosperity, and success.

Jade Emperor Pagoda

Afternoon: Hidden gem of Fine Art Museum and Tan Dinh Church

Enjoy lunch at Com Nieu Saigon (19 Tu Xuong, District 3), famous for its “broken rice” dishes. After your lunch, you can explore Vietnam’s rich cultural legacy, which on display in the 1929-built Fine Arts Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, located in District 1.  It features a varied collection of contemporary lacquer paintings, installations, and sculptures. Through workshops, interactive displays, artist presentations, and guided tours, the museum creates connections between the past and present. Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Every day.

Fine Arts Museum

In addition, you can visit Tan Dinh Church, also called the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was built in an architectural style evocative of Romanian churches and has a vivid pink color. Near Tan Dinh Church there is Tan Dinh Market, you can come here to enjoy delicious street food, and also Vietnamese specialties.

Tan Dinh Church

Evening: Experience food tour and sightseeing

Take the “Saigon Night Street Food by Motorbike Tour” in Ho Chi Minh City to tour the energetic streets. In addition, you may savor well-known foods like banh mi, pho, banh cuon, and banh xeo, as well as lesser-known treats, and learn about the rich history and culture of the city. Thus, you will get the most thrilling experience possible from the culinary tour and scooter sightseeing.

Saigon Night Street Food By Motorbike Tour

In addition to the vibrant Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam offers a variety of other fascinating locations that make for unforgettable encounters. Not only do Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long have remarkable natural beauty, but they also have rich cultural traditions and a rich history. I have no doubt that when your visit to Ho Chi Minh City comes to a conclusion, its alluring fusion of culture, history, and gastronomic pleasures will enchant you. I hope you have lots of ideas for your stay after reading this blog post. If you have any questions, please comment on this blog, I would be happy to respond!